Sramana Mitra: This is a slightly different line of questioning. You explicitly mentioned that you are looking for companies that are looking to sell to the female demographics or purchase cycles that are influenced by the female demographics, however, your fund invests in both male and female founders. Can you comment on whether you believe there is a significant bias against female entrepreneurs in the industry?
Christina Brodbeck: I don’t know if it’s an intentional bias, but I do think the result is that it often is more difficult for female founders to raise money. The number of women investing partners is somewhere between 4% and 8%, which is pretty low. Oftentimes, if you have a product that targets the female demographic and you go and pitch it to a bunch of male investors, they are not necessarily the end users of your product. They might not necessarily get it.
Having been in that position myself on the founder side, there are times when you get comments like, “Let me go ask my wife if she would use this.” One of the things that we provide is a female end user perspective ourselves because we are four female partners.
Sramana Mitra: But that’s different though. Even male founders who are catering to the female demographic face that problem.
Christina Brodbeck: That’s true. You were asking more in terms of if it’s difficult for them to raise money.
Sramana Mitra: Yes.
Christina Brodbeck: I do think it is more difficult for female founders to raise money regardless of their end user demographic. It becomes more difficult if you are a female founder and you’re targeting a female demographic.
Sramana Mitra: Why is that?
Christina Brodbeck: One is, you have all of the potential biases that exist just being a female founder. Unfortunately, people tend to pattern match. If you don’t see a lot of female founders, you don’t necessarily know how to place them into your mental model.
Sramana Mitra: I buy your point about female end user demographic and that it is harder for men to understand that. But that is not a bias against female entrepreneurs. That is a bias that these male investors do not know how to understand that market because they don’t have direct experience of that market. That’s a different issue than having bias against female entrepreneurs.
I happen to believe that there is no bias against women entrepreneurs in the industry. If you are presenting something that is fundable that fits the venture capital model, I don’t believe that there is a bias.
Christina Brodbeck: I don’t think it’s necessarily always a conscious bias, but it’s changing for sure. I do think that people are really trying now to be more open with their thought process in trying to recognize that they have had a bias. I do think that it has existed. It’s changing but I don’t think that we’re there yet.